This park honors George Wood Wingate (1840-1928), best known for co-founding the National Rifle Association (NRA). A Union general in the Civil War, Wingate was disturbed by the inadequate skills of the Northern soldiers, feeling they lacked discipline and were poor marksmen. After the War, in an effort to address these problems and to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” he created the NRA with Colonel William Church in 1871. Wingate was also a lawyer and writer and used the latter skill to promote his platform and the necessity of the NRA.
He wrote Manual for Rifle Practice,Including a Complete Guide to Instruction in the Use and Care of the Modern Breech-Loader (1872), as well as Through the Yellowstone Park on Horseback (1886), and History of the Twenty-Second Regiment of the National Guard of the State of New York; from Its Organization to 1895 (1896). He was also among the founders in 1903 of the Public School Athletic League, which continues to organize high school athletics today.
Before George Wingate High School was built in 1954, this area was called Pig Town after its numerous small animal farms. The school’s construction gave the neighborhood a new name as well as the park. The City bought this property at the southeast corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Rutland Road in 1952 and the park opened in 1957. It had been named Hawthorne Field and George Wingate High School Park before Parks Commissioner Stern shortened the name to Wingate Park in 1987. A dead-end section of Fenimore Street extended partway into the park and was added to the park in 1993 when the right-of-way was transferred to Parks.
In 1996 the park addition was renovated with $200,000 from Borough President Howard Golden and the track and irrigation system were repaired in 1997 with $738,000 provided by Council Member Una S. T. Clarke. The park offers benches, a flagpole with a yardarm, a comfort station, play equipment with safety surfacing, swings, basketball courts, handball courts, and a track. Named after a man with a deep interest in school athletics, Wingate Park provides a range of different athletic opportunities to the students at this public school and the surrounding community.